Violent video games: Do parents want help from a nanny state?
Parents weigh in on Monday's Supreme Court ruling, which struck down, by a 7-2 vote, a California law that prevented the sale of violent video games to minors.
Mike Blake / Reuters
Sherman Oaks, California
But what say parents?
At the food court at the Fashion Square Mall here in Sherman Oaks, there is a wealth of opinion, ranging from âIt would have helped,â to âGovernment, stay out of it, and let parents be parents.â
Interviews via email and in person from here to Boston â with decidedly unscientific samples â seem to indicate that parents, by a ratio of about 3 to 2, prefer to do their own policing.
âI looked over my sonâs shoulder as he played a game with young girls being struck by a shovel as they beg for mercy âŚ then the player can pour gasoline over them, set them on fire and pee on them,â says Gladys Stone, a single mom with a 14-year-old son. âThatâs disgusting. I would love to have a law that I could point to and say, âSorry Zeke, itâs against the law,â â she says.
âItâs a parentâs job to watch their children and decide what is allowed or not,â says Edie Hagmaier, mother of three boys, ages 9 to 14. âWho wants to live in a nanny state? Not me.â
Likewise, Lisle and Jim Stigler â head of a middle school and a UCLA psychology professor, respectively â think parents should be able to control their minor childâs activities without a law being in place. âI donât allow my kids to purchase any game that includes rape, theft or violence toward women/children,â writes Lisle, mother of five boys and one girl, in an email. âEven when they are over 18, I donât allow them to play such games in my house.â
Scott Miller, father of a 16-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter, carves out a middle ground. âSelf-image is highly fragile and peer pressure intense during this [age] period,â he writes in an email. âThe issue here is really about determining the boundaries of parental discretion and jurisdiction.â
Several parents highlight incongruities in the governmentâs position. Justice Stephen Breyer noted one in his dissent: âWhat sense does it make to forbid selling to a 13-year-old boy a magazine with âŚ a nude woman, while protecting a sale âŚ of an interactive video game in which he actively, but virtually, binds and gags the woman, then tortures and kills her?â
Sam Singer, who runs his own public relations firm in San Francisco, says, âIt's ironic that the government can put warning labels on cigarettes and ban their sales to minors, but it cannot do the same with overtly violent and dangerous video games.â
Carol Meerschaert, a communications marketer in Paoli, PA. and mother of three, says, âIt feels very hypocritical for government that approves war â and may someday send my son to war â to pretend to protect him by banning a video game. â
Walking around Bostonâs Jamaica Pond, Omar Lopez says he doesnât need the governmentâs help. He holds up his 7-month-old son and talks directly to him: âThatâs my job, to say, âYou canât get âGrand Theft Auto.â â â
Chloe Stepney in Boston contributed to this report.